brain game | 

Shane Lowry dreams of hitting the Masters jackpot: ‘It could be me’

Shane Lowry walks up the 13th fairway during a practice round. Photo: Mike Blake/Reuters

Brian Keogh

Golf is a game of inches and Shane Lowry believes the six between his ears are key to becoming Ireland’s first Masters champion.

Like everyone who buys a lottery ticket thinking, “it could be me”, he knows he has a chance and insists it could all come down to thinking clearly.

“I want to go out and perform,” said the Offaly man (35), who has been playing the most consistent golf of his life since his career-best tie for 21st last year, racking up seven top-10s in his last 23 strokeplay starts.

“There’s no doubt I want to be standing here on Sunday with a green jacket. I know if I play my best stuff and get a few breaks, that could be me. I feel great coming in here. My game is in pretty good shape and I’m quietly confident.”

He missed the cut in three of his first four Masters and finished 59th in the other. But he was 25th in 2020 when he played with defending champion Tiger Woods for three days and learned so much he had his best finish last year.

“I’m starting to figure out the place a little bit better,” he admitted. “I struggled here the first couple of years, made mistakes where you shouldn’t be making.

“I’ve started looking at options to do something different this week to take trouble out of play. It’s not just another week; in my eyes, it’s probably the biggest tournament of the year now. I feel in good form. I’m ready to go.”

Lowry saw Woods at Augusta last week and strode up to say hello, having played three rounds with him in 2020. “You learn a lot about how to play the course,” he said.

“Certain holes, certain shots, I might have gone at it differently until I saw what he does. It changes your attitude towards the place.

“You feel you should shoot a really good score, but it’s hard. You need to be patient, conservative and execute the shots, and you need to putt well.

“I think if I hole out well, which I have done over the last while, I’ll be fine. I’m doing everything pretty good. I know there are expectations on me. I put them on myself. I know people are talking. I need to go out and be me.”

So can he win?

“I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think I could,” he said firmly. “I know if I play my best stuff and get a few breaks, that could be me. That’s what gets me out of bed in the morning.

“The fact I won The Open doesn’t mean I want to win this any more or less. If I get into position, I know I’ve a chance. Hopefully, I’ll get that opportunity.”

As for his game-plan, he’s got his US Open hat on.

“If you start chasing, you get in trouble,” he said. “If your game is on, and if you feel like going for a pin, go for it. You need everything to go your way.

“The back nine — there can be birdies, eagles and big numbers as well.

“If you stand there and hit shots, you’ll be rewarded. If you don’t, you won’t. It’s pure golf,” added Lowry.

A thunderstorm forced play to be suspended at midday, but Lowry managed nine holes, taking his tally practice over the past seven days to 63.

“Even if I don’t play any more, I’m ready; I know the golf course,” he said.

With five of the last seven champions featuring in the top five for strokes gained approach, he’s a man to watch.

“My game is good,” said the man ranked 14th this year for iron play.

“If it doesn’t happen, I won’t need to beat myself up too much. I’ve been standing on that range and trying to find something here in previous years.

“I don’t think I need to find anything this week. The six inches between my ears is what it’s all about for me this week.”

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